Readings for the Mass

 Christianity, as many other religions, relies on the Word, a written text-in this case, the Bible. Reading the Bible, therefore, is the focus of the first part of the Mass. During the Middle Ages, the passages excerpted varied in number and selection; the list of readings sometimes even provides hints as to the origin of a given missal. In the Ambrosian rite, for example, as still celebrated in the diocese of Milan, there are three readings at Mass (including one that could be from a saint's life); much more common were two readings, one from the Epistles, read by the subdeacon, and one from the Gospels, read by the deacon. Gospel lectionaries are easily recognized by the words that introduce each passage, "In illo tempore . . .", "At that time . . .." Since books were expensive, a cleric might simply annotate the margins of his copy of the Bible with the days for certain readings, rather than buy a separate lectionary for the mass.

Morgan MS M.91: An epistolary (with other texts) from the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland, copied during the last quarter of the 9th century.
Morgan MS M.91f. 1v:Essentially a title page, announcing the contents of the codex as readings ("lectiones") for the temporale ("dominicales") and for the sanctorale ("aliis festis diebus") beginning with the vigil of Christmas. Morgan MS M.91f. 2:Beginning of the epistle of Paul to the Romans.

Morgan MS M.728: A Gospel lectionary from the Abbey of Saint Remi in France, ca. 860.
Morgan MS M.728f. 94v:The author-portrait of Luke, holding a book in codex format but with rolls stored in the round chest at his feet. Morgan MS M.728f. 95:The opening of the Gospel of Luke.

Morgan MS M.1: The so-called Lindau Gospels, copied at the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland, late 9th century.
Morgan MS M.1f. 72:
opening page.
Morgan MS M.1Front coverFront cover: Dating from ca. 880, the front cover was probably produced at the Court School of the Emperor Charles the Bald; both covers on this book attest to the reverence and ceremonial accorded to the Gospels. Morgan MS M.1Back coverBack cover: This cover was re-used here from an earlier book, in that it comes from the diocese of Salzburg, from the second half of the 8th century.

HSA14A processional from the turn of the 15th century, possibly from southern France with the Gospel reading beginning in the usual fashion, "In illo tempore." Western MS 29, f. 63:A Gospel lectionary from Spain, ca. 1577.
Plimpton Add. MS 03, f. 43:A bible from late 14th or early 15th century England with lists of the readings. Plimpton MS 268, ff. 1v-2: A 15th century English copy of Clement of Lanthony, Harmony of the Gospels with lists of the readings.